[Tweet “”If it can be fixed why worry? If it can’t be fixed, what’s the point of worrying?” ~ Shantideva”]
This is definitely one of my favorite quotes. I have had this plastered on my family’s chalkboard for a couple of months now. It has helped me to find perspective in the little things and to help guide me in calm through the bigger life events. I have also shared this sentiment with others in my vicinity, often getting eye rolls from my kids.
There is a Zen Buddhist story that I think of when I live by this quote. The story goes as follows:
A man walking across a field encounters a tiger. He ran from the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine in one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
When you read this story what does it make you feel or think? This is not something most of us would encounter in our life, being chased down by a tiger, but there is a lesson behind the story.
The strawberry, in all its luscious juiciness should be enjoyed. At the point of hanging from a falling vine and a tiger below, you can’t fly, you can’t perform magic, there is no real out. The situation can’t be fixed. Do you want to spend your last moments worrying about what can’t be changed or enjoy the moment for what it is and enjoy the strawberry?
This story isn’t just referring to life or death. It can also pertain to the little things. Imagine you are expected to be at an appointment by 9:30am sharp. You leave the house with more than enough time to make it on time. You get on the highway and are shortly stopped in traffic. Time is running short. It is nearing 9:30 and you have less than 15 minutes to get there and the traffic isn’t subsiding. What do you do?
You have two basic choices. You can get anxious and angry. You can curse the cars in front of you. You can perform rude gestures to the person who won’t allow you to merge into their lane. You can get yourself worked up.
Do any of the above reactions help you to get to your appointment on time? Will you get through traffic any faster? Not likely.
Your other option is to take a deep breath and just let it unwind. Chances are you won’t make it on time but what can you do? Nothing but go with the flow.
Life is like a river or at least should be. A river flows and without obstruction will flow effortlessly. As soon as an obstacle gets in its path, the flow will be turned around. The water will struggle to find its course.
In life these obstacles are our thoughts. Our thoughts create stories that aren’t actually factual but instead made up scenarios.
Likely in the traffic story above your mind would be conjuring up thoughts about what your being late will entail. Your thoughts will make up the stories that will be the fuel behind your frustration. In reality you really don’t know what will happen if you show up late for your appointment. Perhaps the person you are meeting with is also stuck in the traffic or your being late could open others doors, possibly fantastical, in your day. In reality it is your thoughts that conjure the fear and anxiety that goes with not being able to control a situation.
Next time you are in a situation where worry becomes a factor, stop and ask yourself, “Can I change this?” If you can don’t worry about it and allow things to unfold. If it can’t be changed then what is the point of worrying.
Go with the flow. Let life unwind and enjoy the current.
Rebecca Mckown is a storyteller, creator of magic and believer in self-truth. She has always had a story to tell through her words, sometimes loud, sometimes silent. Rebecca believes in a power that we all hold, waiting to be expressed and shared. Through her words, she hopes to communicate a belief in oneself and a power towards self-love and realization. She is a transformational coach, writer, creator, yogi, herbalist, chicken rancher, lover of life and spiritualist. You can connect with Reb on her website, rebmckown.com.